This post is co-authored by Alisa Percy and Ann Wilson

Following our deep dives into student belonging, agency and teamwork, the Teaching & Curriculum Team (TACT) from IML invites you to join the conversation for the third Hot Topic in our 2021 series and explore with us some of the big ideas to emerge from higher ed research over the last two decades.

The ‘wicked problem’ of feedback: demand vs. supply

We recognise that feedback continues to be a thorny issue and a wicked problem for educators across the sector. On the one hand, it plays a crucial role in student learning and satisfaction, and students are asking for feedback to be high quality and meaningful in the context of their study. At the same time, those tasked with feedback as part of their role are under pressure, with academic work increasingly casualised, complex and subject to change.

Leaning into this seeming paradox of demand versus supply, our Hot Topic takes a critical look at how feedback is being framed as still largely teacher-centred, and we consider how we might expand that view to look at the multiple sources of feedback that can be designed into teaching and assessment practices to promote better student learning and self-regulation.

Feedback as learning

In recent years, there has been a paradigm shift in the way we think about feedback. Some of these perspectives include:

Feedback as tellingFeedback as dialogue
Teacher-centred feedbackLearner-centred feedback
Summative feedbackFormative feedback
Feedback as productFeedback as process
Student feedback literacyTeacher feedback agency
Feedback for learningFeedback as learning

If you’ve explored feedback as a topic before, you may already be familiar with some of the terms emerging from the literature such as ‘feedback for learning’ (Henderson, et al, 2019). We want to push this even further to bring in the perspective of ‘feedback as learning’ and promote the concept of ‘inner feedback’ (Nicol, 2020; Nicol & McCallum, 2021).

We also encourage you to join us in considering how we design feedback and assessment to enable agentic and self-regulated learning, inviting students into a partnership with us to think about shared responsibility in this space.

How to get involved

Feedback and assessment is an ongoing discussion topic at UTS, and as such there are already some excellent resources and reading to get us warmed up to the topic! LX.Lab recently led a series of webinars you can review on automated feedback and has developed a short collection on feedback for student learning which introduces some key concepts.

Our series here will feature guest speakers and showcase good practice at UTS, including designing feedback loops into your teaching, designing assessment for feedback uptake and developing students’ capabilities for complex appraisal.

To kick things off, we would love to see you at the upcoming FFYE Forum ‘Doing Feedback – making it count‘. We will be hearing from a panel of four students from the Student Hub, who will share their perspectives on what makes good feedback, and guest speakers Matt Padula and Yvonne Davilla sharing learnings from a 2020 FFYE grant project.


Carless, D. & Winstone, N. (2020). Teacher feedback literacy and its interplay with student feedback literacy. Teaching in Higher Education 

Henderson, M., Boud, D., Molloy, E., Dawson P., Phillips, M., Ryan, T., Mahoney, P. (2018). Feedback for Learning: Closing the Assessment Loop – Final Report. Canberra: Australian Government Department of Education and Training. Feedback for Learning – Closing the assessment loop 

Nicol, D. (2010). From monologue to dialogue: Improving written feedback processes in mass higher education. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education 

Nicol, D. (2020). The power of internal feedback: exploiting natural comparison processes. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education 

Nicol, D. & McCallum, S. (2021). Making internal feedback explicit: exploiting the multiple comparisons that occur during peer review. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education 

Winstone, N. & Carless, D. (2020). Designing Effective Feedback Processes in Higher Education: A Learning-focused Approach, Routledge, SRHE: London. 

Feature image by Jeswin Thomas on Unsplash

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